When we began homeschooling our two daughters eight years ago, we decided to educate them at home on a year-by-year basis. If what was happening at home was positive and beneficial, we'd continue it to the next year.
If it wasn't, we'd make a different decision.
Thankfully, it was a positive, God-blessed school year. I'm so glad that we continued on!
Teaching preschool and kindergarten in our home was such a blessing. We decided to continue teaching the girls at home for their elementary grades. I invested huge amounts of time looking online (using dial-up internet, of all things, back then!) to research curricula options. I had more time than money, and I literally couldn't afford to make a poor choice on curriculum and then have to buy something else halfway through the school year.
As we began educating our oldest in kindergarten, there were concerns and gasps of surprise among some of our friends and relatives.
I expected that to happen, although I didn't really know how to deal with it. There are teachers on both of the sides of our families, so we knew possibly some of the educators would be opposed to what we were doing.
Thankfully, even though many of our friends and relatives were very unsure - and maybe disliked - what we were choosing to do, they were all polite to us. What they may have said when we weren't around isn't known to me, but I don't have time to worry about things like that.
What do you think was their main concern?
For those of you who already educate your children at home, you probably could figure this out in one guess.
1. How are you going to find a good curriculum to use with your children?
2. How are you ever going to teach high school?!!!
3. What about the high school Prom?
4. How are your children going to succeed without a high school diploma?
5. What about friends for your children, and socialization?
6. How are you going to avoid burnout if you are spending 24/7 with your children?
Okay...what did you guess was the #1 concern?
Of course! It was...question # 5!
What about socialization?
Many people were concerned that our daughters would grow up having no friends, no social skills, and no husband some day.
I can't speak to the "husband" situation, but I can tell you how we handled the questions we received.
Many people didn't ask us anything. Maybe they could tell we were totally set on our decision, so they were afraid to ask. Maybe they were just polite. But for those who did ask us questions, we tried to answer as politely as possible.
I never remember being overly defensive toward our relatives when they asked us about homeschooling, but I do remember being defensive a few times when acquaintances at ballet lessons or other activities would hint around that we were shortchanging our children because we were teaching them at home.
Over the years, I've learned to smile a lot and swallow my words frequently when asked the "typical" homeschooling questions.
I've tried to remember to pray and ask the Lord for guidance when I know I'll be around someone who is abrasive about our homeschooling.
However, over the years, I think most of our friends and relatives have seen enough good come from educating our daughters at home that they are no longer as negative as they might have been in the past.
They recognize that our daughters do have friends of their own, and they see our girls make new friends with ease when encountering new children in social situations. That has placed many of their fears to rest. They may be afraid of other things, but they haven't asked my husband or I about them - yet.
The next time someone is not supportive of our homeschooling decision and is agreeable to discussing it, I'd like to chat with them about the answers to the many questions a lot of people have asked.
If you have friends or relatives who are very negative about the education you have chosen for your own children, whether it be home schooling, private school, or public school...
PRAY for wisdom and guidance on how to address people's concerns.
ANSWER with just a few words if the person tends to be overly critical and negative.
LET THE ACTIONS of your children speak for themselves. Are your children polite? Do they enjoy learning new things? Do they interact well with good, godly peers? Do they enjoy relating to people of all ages (younger children through elderly adults)?
DON'T FRET about the comments people have. Life is too short to stress out about those kinds of concerns.
TAKE THE GRAIN OF TRUTH from what they have asked you. If they have complained about the lack of a routine to your day or your children having no outside friends other than your own nucleus family, think about what has been said. Maybe there is a grain of truth that will apply for your own family situation.
SHAKE IT OFF. Don't hold a grudge; life is too short! Ask them to pray for your family, if that is appropriate.
SHOW THEM that home education isn't just an educational choice; it's a family lifestyle. The children/parent relationship is #1 next to our relationship with God, and it should be protected at all costs.
LET THEM SEE the results as the years go by. Your negative criticizers will virtually disappear after a few years of seeing healthy, happy children being educated and brought to adulthood.
9/6/2010 02:29:58 am
First of all, God gave your children to you, not to the government or to any of your friends or family. It is your responsibility to see to their needs, not the government's. I applaud you for stepping up to this responsibility. I have a hard time believing that anyone of those opposed to your decision have a good reason to be opposed to it. After all, you were a public school teacher before you became a mommy. The sad truth is that most parents in our society have surrendered this responsibility to the state, and our country is reaping the "rewards" of this fact in that children are being taught lies about their origins, and they are slowly being brainwashed to accept liberal policies. How else could our country have elected a president whose goal is to destroy freedom and our Constitution? It is a fact that the public school system is systematically dumbing down the nation's children so that they will accept tyranny without even knowing it. And even the teachers don't realize this is what they are doing.
9/8/2010 03:06:54 am
Thank you for what you shared Julieanne, as I watch your homeschool journey I am convinced you are doing what God has lead on your heart and you do it to the best of your ability and for the Glory of God. You really do inspire me! Can I just add not for you as I know we have talked many times, but maybe for others that not every Christian who choose to send their children to public school thinks badly or feels like those who do homeschool need to defend themselves. I have many close friends who homeschool, I am supportive and excited for them in their journey. I often try to encourage them by sending info. I find out their way!
9/9/2010 03:06:29 am
Jayne, you are so right about this. Homeschooling parents need prayer for patience and godly wisdom and guidance for being with their children 24/7 - or close to it. :)
9/9/2010 03:36:57 am
Thanks for this article! We actually started going thru this journey when we opted to homeschool my youngest sister for Junior high and high school. She had already been in public school and private Christian. We were actually surprised by the "outcry" from both sides of the family. We had a huge homeschooling network that was AMAZING for extra curriculurs, tutoring, field trips, drama, singing, band, orchestra, et al! Then we had our children.
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Hi! I'm Julieanne!